Understanding Pain: What is Nociceptive Pain?

Pain is a complex and multifaceted experience that can manifest in various forms. It affects millions of people worldwide, often impacting their daily lives and overall well-being. Pain is defined by The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.”

Today, we will discuss the different sources of pain, their characteristics, and appropropriate management strategies. By gaining a deeper understanding of your pain types, you can better navigate our own pain experiences and seek appropriate treatment.

What is nociceptive pain?

Nociceptive pain originates from the activation of specialised nerve fibers called nociceptors, which respond to potential tissue damage. It can be further classified as somatic or visceral pain, depending on whether it arises from the body’s tissues or internal organs, respectively.

Somatic Pain

Somatic pain arises from pain from your skin, muscles, bones, or joints. It is usually well-localised and you can point out exactly where it hurts. Most people will describe their pain as sharp, deep, or achy. The pain you experience when touching a boiling a kettle is an example of somatic pain. Other examples include muscle strains, joint sprains, and fractures.

Visceral Pain

Visceral pain originates from the internal organs, such as the stomach, liver, or intestines. It is often described as a deep, squeezing, or cramping sensation. Unlike somatic pain, it is often poorly localised. When you may be able to point to the general area when you have discomfort, it is difficult to identify specifically where the pain is coming from. Conditions like appendicitis, kidney stones, and inflammatory bowel disease can cause visceral pain.

How does nociception become pain?

nociceptive pain, pain pathway
Do you know there is no such thing as a pain signal? Pain is a perception that is the result of many incoming signals from the rest of your body.

Nociception is the neural processes of encoding and processing noxious stimuli. It is effectively a threat processing system.

When you touch a boiling kettle, you feel pain. The pain you experienced, however, is not produced at your fingers. In fact, all pain experiences are created in the brain. When you touch a hot kettle, various receptors are activated. For example, the mechanoreceptors will detect that the kettle is hard. Thermoreceptors will detect the temperature of the kettle. Once they detected that the temperature is very hot, the nociceptors will be activated. The nociceptors will send nociceptive signals to your brain to indicate the presence of a potential threat. Following which, your brain will interpret the situation and decide whether you will experience pain.

Treatment and Management of Nociceptive Pain

Most nociceptive pain will heal on its own even without treatment. Once the underlying issue is addressed and the body heals, your pain will start to subside.

If your pain persists beyond six weeks, it is recommended to seek assistance from a healthcare provider, such as a chiropractor. Consulting a healthcare professional at this stage allows for early intervention. Taking the appropriate treatment will prevent the pain from progressing into chronicity. A chiropractor can assess your condition. By identify any underlying issues contributing to the pain, they provide guidance on the necessary steps to manage and alleviate it. Taking action early can lead to better outcomes and help you regain control of your well-being.

Understanding Pain from a Pain Science Perspective

pain science, pain clinic singapore
Did you know it’s possible to experience pain without damage and also to experience NO pain even when there is damage? Are you able to identify from the images above, which is the painful one? They are both real life cases! To learn more about them, check out our article on Pain Neuroscience Education.

So far, we have talked how an injury can lead to pain. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Did you know that you can experience pain without any apparent physical damage or injury? This understanding challenges the traditional belief that pain is solely linked to tissue damage and opens up new possibilities for managing and addressing pain.

Your pain is a complex experience generated by your brain. Pain science takes into consideration other factors including sensory information, emotions, beliefs, and past experiences that can contribute to your pain. Because pain is often influenced by multiple factors beyond the presence of physical damage, a biopsychosocial approach to yields the best long term results.

Pain treatment in Singapore

exercise therapy, chronic pain management
Graded exposure therapy is useful for chronic pain. It is an approach that involves gradually and systematically exposing individuals to physical activities or movements that may initially cause pain or discomfort. The goal is to desensitise the nervous system and retrain the brain’s response to pain. This allows pain sufferers to engage in activities that were previously perceived as threatening or painful.

Treatments that focus solely on physical aspects of pain yield very poor outcomes. Current clinical guidelines encourage the shift from focusing solely on treating the physical aspect of pain to addressing the broader factors that contribute to your pain experience. Approaches like exercise, education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques, and graded exposure can play a crucial role in managing your pain by addressing how your brain interprets and responds to pain signals.

Chiropractors who embrace the principles of pain science can offer you a more comprehensive and personalised approach to pain management. They recognise that your pain experience is influenced by physical, psychological, social, and emotional factors. By adopting this holistic perspective, they can develop tailored treatment plans that address your unique needs and enhance your overall well-being.

Pain science teaches us that pain is not solely determined by physical damage. By embracing a multidimensional approach to pain management and working with healthcare professionals who understand pain science, you can take an active role in managing your pain and improving your quality of life.



Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.